FSC Publishes Revised General Accreditation Standard

FSC Publishes Revised General Accreditation Standard

On 15 December 2015, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) published the revised General Requirements for FSC-Accredited Certification Bodies (FSC-STD-20-001).

This standard specifies requirements for the competence, consistency, impartiality, transparency, rigour, and accessibility of evaluations conducted by FSC-accredited certification bodies.

The standard has been revised to ensure conformity with the ISEAL Assurance Code and compatibility with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard 17065 (Conformity Assessment – Requirements for Bodies Certifying Products, Processes, and Services).

Main changes

The revised standard has been re-structured and now follows a similar structure to ISO 17065.
The revised FSC standard has been simplified by directly incorporating relevant ISO 17065 requirements and advice notes, thereby providing a harmonized set of requirements in one document, and eliminating redundancies.
Some parts of the standard, including requirements on impartiality, complaints, and appeals, and auditor qualification and training, have been clarified and strengthened.
A new procedural document — General Requirements for an FSC Training Program (FSC-PRO-20-004) — was developed and will be submitted for approval by the FSC Board of Directors in March 2016.

Outcomes

The revised standard improves the overall consistency of the certification bodies that operate the FSC certification programme, in particular concerning the qualification and training of FSC auditors. It thereby implements GA 2014 Motion 52 on training and qualification requirements for FSC audit teams, and GA 2014 Motion 66 on auditor rotation.